Dan Li got his first taste for the challenges of running an e-commerce store in his role as an older brother. About six years ago, Li’s sister—a high school student at the time—had aspirations to open a store selling hair accessories and jewelry. But in Deep River, Ont., an Ottawa Valley town of about 4,000 people, the pool of potential customers was small. So Li, then a product manager at LinkedIn, suggested putting the venture online instead, and together the siblings launched a Shopify store.
Through that experience, Li began meeting other merchants. “That really inspired me to want to be a part of that community and help make their lives a little easier,” he said.
The idea stuck with him after leaving his job at LinkedIn for Harvard Business School. While there, he reconnected with an old friend, Sam Chuang, who had himself been a Shopify merchant, and the idea for Shypyard was born.